UPS Inc. will launch a product later this month that lets online merchants manage the flow of returned shipments without needing to integrate new technologies into their existing systems, the Atlanta-based company said today.
The online tool, called "Returns Manager," will be rolled out Aug. 14 in the U.S. and two weeks later in 43 additional countries, Atlanta-based UPS said. The product allows shippers to pre-authorize return shipments, set appropriate service levels, request a reason for the return, and see reports on their shipment status, UPS said.
Consumers can print return shipping labels directly from a UPS website and a mobile app, from email alerts, and from the company's retail chain, The UPS Store. Outbound and return packages will be linked in the company's tracking system, UPS said.
UPS said it would be the first logistics provider to offer the ability to create a returns shipment from a standard tracking results page. The company said the tool would be ideal for small to mid-sized merchants that lack in-house returns processing capabilities. It would also be a cost-effective alternative to merchants' placing returns labels in every box, UPS said.
Reports from various data sources point to the growing frequency of product returns, especially in e-commerce where customers will often order multiples of the same product, keep one of the items and return the rest. The National Retail Federation (NRF) found that Americans in 2015 returned $260.5 billion in merchandise, equivalent to 8 percent of all purchases made during that year. Various estimates peg the cost of returns processing to represent between 10 and 15 percent of the costs of goods sold.
In addition, it is believed that at least 30 percent of e-commerce orders are returned, compared with less than 9 percent of sales from brick-and-mortar stores.